Today has been a day of rumination on film. I went to see my first salvo of films at this years RIFF film festival last night, where we went to see the film TROLLHUNTER. But alas it didn’t end too well with some really shoddy projection and a lack of decent management of the place meant we never got to see the whole of the movie. thankfully the person at the box office today gave us several complimentary free tickets for our troubles, but for once, i would love to see a major cultural event in Iceland by properly organised and not be content with flying by the seat of its pants.
Sigh…. well all that is done and dusted now. Today is Sunday, the day of rest and also the day for our regular installment of the SUUUUUUNDAYYYYY CULT FILM COOOOOOOORNEEEEEEER! And this week we have a sleek ,sexy film abouT passion, betrayal and the world of chance by an Uber Cult director. Ladies and Gentlemen, i give you CROUPIER.
Croupier is directed by Mike Hodges, a director who had often directed mostly in genre cinema and is most famous for directing one of the best british crime thrillers ever, Get Carter. However after his initial flush of success with Get Carter and Pulp, Hodges found himself pushed further and further to the edges of mainstream and critical cinema, sinking as low as directing the putrid “Morons from Outer Space”.
But Croupier was seen as a beginning of a comeback for Hodges. It stars Clive Owen as Jack Manfred, a struggling writer who is forced to go back to his old career as a casino croupier to make ends meet. Once back working he regains the gambling bug as he is drawn into the dark sleazy world of the casino employees. He also breaks the rules as he starts to see Jani (Alex Kingston), a glamorous casino regular who has money troubles. she persuades Jack to be the inside man in a heist on the casino, but can Jack beat the odds, or is he being set up for a fall?
When Croupier was released in Europe, it mostly sunk without trace. But when it was released on a limited run in the US, it received rave reviews and became a sleeper hit, creating renewed interest back in Europe. The film is sleekly directed with a tight plot and a decent narrative drive through Jack’s inner monologue, which comes in the form of him taking on the character of “Jake”, the lead protagonist of the novels he works on, based on his experiences at the casino. Most of this is down to the performance of Owen, who is the engine at the heart of the film and rises to the challenge very well.
Croupier also provides a fairly authentic layout of the running of a casino, with its security, its workings at fleecing the punters and what foes on behind the scenes.
So if you fancy a decent meditation on the nature of chance in life, then get some decent snacks and get watching this superior piece of neo-noir.